Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Visiting Masconomet's Grave

After paddling the waters of Chebacco Lake earlier this week, I've been learning more in regards to the Native American history of the area once known as Agawam.  The territory, so named by Native Americans, included the northeastern corner of coastal Massachusetts including much of the Ipswich River watershed and stretched inland several miles.  One man's name that pops up over and over again is "Masconomet, Sagamore of Agawam".  The first mention of him is in 1630 when it's said he paddled a canoe out to the English ship Arbella which lay anchored in Salem Harbor.  On board the Arbella was the newly arrived governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop.  Masconomet stayed aboard the ship all day and, in doing so, apparently established a good relationship with the man who would ultimately play a major role in shaping the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Over the ensuing years Masconomet would sell almost all of Agawam to English settlers.  At the time of his death in 1658 he retained only 6 acres of land, and it's possible that this parcel became his final resting place.  The location of his grave is just a little more than half a mile north of Chebacco Lake and at the top of Sagamore Hill in Hamilton.

This morning, under bright blue skies and a cold biting wind, I visited the gravesite and was impressed with the way the site is maintained.  There is a sense of reverence and dignity.  There are two stone markers and several related signs providing information about Masconomet.  The two oldest stone markers had numerous offerings placed about them...
Amongst the many offerings were shells, stones, a harmonica, a deerskin, and a large lobster's crusher claw.  Suspended from tree limbs above were a wide variety of dreamcatchers...
In addition to the solemn gravesite, the hilltop also hosts the Sagamore Hill Solar Radio Observatory which can be seen in the background.
Weird that while the Sagamore of Agawam rests for eternity in one of his favorite places and dreamcatchers sway in the breeze, personnel in the nearby facility closely monitor the life force of our universe.  

1 comment:

mike said...


Here is an interesting note about Chebacco lake.

Smooth paddling.
Mike in the green canoe.